Asked to rate three priority skills to be a successful jeweller, Phillip Lacy of Meeniyan, doesn’t hesitate. “One must have a desire to create, to learn how to transform, a curiosity and excellent listening and communication skills.”
Lacy Jewellers is located in the heart of the South Gippsland town of Meeniyan.
When about 16 years old, Philip was encouraged by his father to apply for a job as an apprentice jeweler in Batemans Bay that was advertised in the local paper. A half hour “chat” sealed Philip’s future; he was offered the job and as he said “didn’t know what he was in for.”
Although the local Batemans Bay business was sold, Philip stayed on, finished his four year apprenticeship and then went surfing, “for about six months.” But, “I was broke and needed a job. I set up at home doing trade work and managed to retain several loyal clients. Think about it, I was working from home and still able to surf – it was good fun. Then it was into Melbourne working in a retail (jewellery) environment for about five years.
“I then worked from home assembling a range of jewellery building up a client base via word-of-mouth and virtually no advertising. However, realizing there were other things to do in life, Danielle and I headed overseas, which was almost obligatory for most young Australians.
“Milan in Italy was our first stop and we immersed ourselves in the local culture, even learning Italian. This was the life for us – it was inspirational, we were flat broke, the food was good – what a way to go. At least we had our return tickets paid for.”
Reflecting on these times, Philip and Danielle realize “an unconscious collection of ideas” was being assembled. This probably wasn’t realised at the time yet a repertoire of images and ideas encompassing design, metal and stones was being harnessed.
Danielle and Philip then traveled to the northern counties of England, around Northumberland where much needed paid employment was found – Danielle as a carer and Philip as a “chicken wrangler”. There is another entire story waiting to be written about these times, yet for Danielle and Philip, it was a good break in many ways and all quite surreal. Their range and depth of life’s experiences will forever remain as personal memories.
Home beckoned; Danielle being a former resident of Meeniyan and Philip was initially from Fish Creek before moving to Batemans Bay. Basically, the time had come to return home and South Gippsland was their focus.
“I enjoy being self-employed and our journey to this point brings no regrets. We manage to look around at other jewellers when given an opportunity. We are naturally drawn to jewellery to check out design ideas, different styles and trends – it’s our way of being critically analytical; it’s our homework.
“Those who buy jewellery immediately form emotional attachments. They actually choose to live with whatever is purchased. That bond should not be interrupted by a jeweller. Our’s is a precious relationship, delicate in one sense, quite necessary in other ways.”